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Complications and chemical peels. Leave it to the Pros!

February 27, 2017

The deeper the peel, the more complications that can arise.   Although they may sound harmless, medical grade chemical peels should always be administered by a certified medical professional or medically directed licensed esthetician. Professional peels and lower-concentration DIY home peel kits can pose health risks, including injury and scarring of the skin. Other possible complications include photosensitivity, prolonged erythema, pigmentary changes, milia, skin atrophy, and textural changes. 


Complications of chemical peels can generally be prevented through proper patient selection, informative counseling, adequate priming, and with good before and after care.


Adequate priming of your skin for at least a week prior to a chemical peel but no sooner than 3-5 days before the procedure is important. Priming is achieved by application of depigmenting agents such as hydroquinone or retinoic acid and use of sunscreens.  You should be instructed not to bleach, wax, scrub, massage or use depilatories or scrubs, and to discontinue retinoids 3 days before the peel. For patients with active lesion or herpes simplex, a prophylactic antiviral should be taken, beginning 2 days prior to the peel and continued 10-14 days after peeling untill -re-epithelialization occurs.


Post care:  In the immediate post peel period, mild soap or a gentle non-soap cleanser should be used. If crusting occurs, topical antibiotic ointment should be applied to prevent bacterial infection and enhance wound healing. Sun exposure should be avoided and broad spectrum sunscreen should be used meticulously.  Peeling agents such as glycolic acids and retinoids should be avoided until desquamation is complete (skin is done peeling). You should be strictly advised against picking, peeling, scratching, rubbing or scrubbing your skin. You should also understand how to identify complications.  Common signs include excessive redness, swelling, burning or pain, crusts, oozing, pus formation or blisters.  If any of these signs or symptoms occur, you should contact your medical professional immediately, so that appropriate action can be taken. 


Chemical peeling can be a simple, safe and cost-effective office procedure. Though complications can occur, they are less likely in well-trained hands. 


This video from The Doctors explains the basic do's and dont's of Chemical Peeling...



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